Portal 2: Travelling through Aperture and history in 10 days

Every now and then, when the stars align right and the fates deem it appropriate, I’m given the opportunity to finish an entire game in a reasonable amount of time. The most recent example of this is Portal 2, which I completed late last year in a record 10 days.

Portal 2 cover art © Valve (source)

I don’t set out to spend an excruciatingly long time with a game; sometimes I end up addicted, other times it just really does take me 6 months to finish a game because I’ve only got a couple hours a week to play. With Portal 2, however, I actually had a deadline. Yes, I realize it’s a little lame, but in a house with two non-co-op (for the most part) gamers, a little (a lot) compromise is sometimes (always) called for. In the case of Portal 2, the circumstances involved a friend of my husband’s with whom he promised to play Portal 2, Gamefly, an overabundance of vacation days, and the holidays. This strange combination made for 10 mostly free days during which I had more time to game than I had had in awhile.

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Meeting Quake on a train and what transpired there

Quake cover art © id Software (source)

“I seriously want to play Quake, or DOOM, or something computer related that involves shooting aliens into bloody masses.”

— my journal, 18 July 1996

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Hey…Quake! I mean…oh…um sorry, but I never expected to see, uh…I…I just wanted…ah, is anyone sitting here?  Mind if I…?  Thanks.  If only this thing would arrive on time for once, right?  Hmmm?  I look like…?  Oh, I get that a lot; but no, we’ve never met — you don’t know me.  But I know youor, at least, I knew you. I met you a long time ago…sixteen years, if my math’s correct.  I kept you in my calendar for a long time, but our paths never really crossed at the right place or the right time. ’96 was a weird year for me.  I took a lot of new chances, headed out on new ventures, and video games just weren’t a high priority then.

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Why, your brain doesn’t look a day over 20! What’s your secret?

I’m not sure if Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (2006) counts what we define as a “video game,” but  when I got my spankin’ new DS, it was the first DS game I picked up for the system. Now, why in the world did I buy Brain Age, when, by 2006, there was a plethora of DS games (including Super Mario 64 DS) on the market?

Brain Age cover art © Nintendo (source)

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A new PS3 and a conversation about old school games

It arrived! It finally arrived! 😀

source: me!

Deliveries were a little delayed this week, but this most lovely package graced our doorstep yesterday.  After the most minor of delays, we tore (carefully) into the box and started setting up the system.  This slim PS3 is so skinny compared to our original beast!  And my husband’s on cloud nine!  As we were setting things up, he almost cooed at the screen as the network loaded, whispering sweet nothings about how much he missed gaming…or maybe he was just trying to remember his PSN login stuff — the look on his face was the same in either case.  After the system was ready to go and he sent out the prerequisite “I’m back!” message to all his friends, it was time for some Assassin’s Creed 3, which he’s simply been dying to play.  Game in and…loading, loading, loading…omfg…LOADING STILL!  (Oh modern games with your crazy-ass load times! I grrrrr but *heart* you still.) In the meantime, for me, welcoming our newest system brought back all sorts of memories, mostly Christmases and birthdays where game systems and games were received.  I started reminiscing and the following conservation resulted, which I inadvertently and much to my husband’s dismay-turned-tolerance formulated into an “interview” about his early gaming experiences.

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I’m going to dress you up in my love. (All over, all over.)

Here we are in the dark, spoOoOOoky, and waning hours of Halloween. We had a few trick-or-treaters today — not enough to empty our giant bowl of candy (oh darn). It seems Batman and Bratz (ugh) are quite popular among the kids, though we did get a very creative My Little Pony.  But we all know Halloween costumes are not relegated to the youth.  Did you dress up in costume today? Perhaps you are still dressed up, wondering where you are, what you’ve been doing, and why tequila shots make you feel all numby and stuff.  Halloween’s not my favorite holiday, but I do enjoy costumes and seeing what adult costumes are this year’s latest and greatest. (Or, if you’re a girl, this year’s most asinine ways to just barely cover up your lady parts.)

I’m sure she wants to be launched at your piggy. Your big, bad, piggy… (source)

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Atari’s Home Run, or maybe just a foul ball called fair

I grew up in a baseball household.  My dad played it, still plays softball, and has been an MLB fan for many years. My mom was always a cheerful supporter.  I fondly remember watching professional teams play on TV and going to my dad’s games.  When my brother and sister came along and were old enough, we had our own backyard team.  I know that my dad hoped all of us would become involved in the sport, and well…two outta three ain’t bad.  But together we watched many a World Series and rooted for our local (or close enough) Phillies.  My favorite players were Mike Schmidt and Tug McGraw, and Veterans Stadium (RIP) was the place to be. The Phils were pretty good back then, and I never forgave them for the debacle of 1993 (go Blue Jays!) and the awful Dykstra/Kruk/Wild Thing years that followed.  I moved on to root for New York teams, and kept up with the sport fairly regularly until the early 2000s when it seemed dope, greed, and carelessness ruled the field.

Boy, the nostalgia ship really sailed on that one (sorry)…

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Super Mario World, Yoshi, and maybe one too many words in all-caps.

Dinosaurs. They’re pretty cool, right? I mean, they are by far the most popular exhibit in any natural history museum. How many kids think that digging up dinosaur bones is the coolest job ever?? (Do kids still think for themselves these days?)  What would the history of this planet be without dinosaurs??? B-o-r-i-n-g, that’s what.

So insert a dinosaur into a video game, in this case with Mario and Luigi, and it’s bound to become a fan favorite for generations upon generations, without a doubt!

Er.  Well….

Yes?

Yes!  Yoshi!

Yoshi in his latest “3D” form. (source)

This loveable, rideable green dinosaur was introduced to video gamers in the incredibly fun and popular SNES game, Super Mario World (1991). Now, I liked Super Mario Brothers. I fell in love with the tanooki, frog, and raccoon suits in Super Mario Brothers 3. But Super Mario World truly captured my heart.

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Video game endings and (probably) the last of what I have to say about Mass Effect 3

Well, there you have it. That ending. It was something…else…? I mean that thing…whoa, right? And then I was all like what the eff…??? But that was after the whole ordeal with those guys and the stuff… It was like, um…yeah it was!

Really? Hmm.

(First of two, that’s right, two **spoiler** warnings)

I recently, finally finished ME3, and I took a little time to fully digest the ending. And since the whole thing is finally down, I really don’t want to regurgitate everything that happened, so here’s the super-kinka-maya-maya-quicky version.  Shepard made it to the Reaper beam after nearly being killed in the London siege. (I really thought she was going to die during it and someone else from the team was going to take over, but no). The ship, the dead bodies, Anderson, Shepard’s slow (OMG SLOOOOOW) stagger to that infinite room, the Illusive Man, the shot, the “elevator” ride, the ghost boy “catalyst,” the big, big choice — control or destroy the Reapers. I listened, a little unsure about the whole thing, and then I made my choice: destroy. Big cut scene, Shepard may or may not be dead, Normandy narrowly escapes and ends up on a virtual Garden of Eden planet. Credits roll.

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